Over the years, my family and I have made efforts to reduce our use of plastics, both for environmental and health purposes. Here’s a little mini-lesson in the toxins in plastics, along with some suggestions for making small, sustainable, affordable changes that can have a big impact.
Let’s begin with how plastics can affect your body:
Plastics can contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which can influence estrogen production and function, thereby causing serious imbalances in your health. These hormone disrupters can impact the systems that regulate your metabolism, sex hormones, appetite, mood, and microbiome.
Our bodies can absorb plastic that touches our food, water, and skin (your largest organ).
It’s lurking, well, everywhere. Yes, there are the obvious culprits: water bottles, plastic bags, saran wrap. But then, there are places you might not realize BPA is present. For example: receipts. Yes--like from the grocery store. Those shiny receipts contain BPA which is transdermally absorbed into your systems within seconds of touching it.
It can be overwhelming and intimidating to try to eliminate all your plastic consumption. To an extent, some exposure is completely unavoidable. Again--did you really think your CVS receipts were toxic? Probably not. But before you sigh and give up completely, here are five easy steps you can take to reduce your plastic consumption.
First and foremost: Observe.
Before you do anything--take stock. Do you buy those big cases of plastic water bottles from Costco and let them sit in your car, at the ready? Are you using plastic tupperware to store your food? Are you microwaving a plastic container (heating plastics increases the release of chemicals--so you NEVER want to use in the microwave). Do you use plastic straws? Bring your awareness as you go through your day and take note of how much plastic you are coming into contact with. This activity is an awesome step to decreasing your exposure and helping your hormones restore balance.
Alright, take a breath, b/c, I know. It was a lot. Now what?!
Make SMALL changes.
Invest in a reusable, glass or steel water bottle. This is a great place to start: it’s going to encourage you to drink more water and it’s so much better for the environment (I won’t lecture you on how long a plastic water bottle takes to decompose). I like Yeti and S’well bottles.
Save your (jam) jars! Many jellies, preserves, mayos, salsas (etc) come in glass jars. Once you’ve finished the product, rinse it and use it to store food. I do lots of “jar breakfasts”--they fit in the cupholder of my car, so they’re perfect for food on the go. My fave is Bonne Maman with the checkered red lid.
Start replacing your plastic food storage with glass. This can be done slowly. Buy a glass one the same size as your favorite plastic tupperware and recycle the old guy. One at a time. You’ll find yourself reaching for the glass ones anyhow, b/c they CAN be microwaved and your fridge will look so pretty. Ikea has some affordable options that have proven to be virtually indestructible.
Think about your plastic bag situation. Are you a ziplock fan? I know--they’re great. But, they’re culprits! Stasher bags are silicone and a great alternative. They are pricey, but, again--one at a time.
What about plastic wrap? I’ve purchased some Bees Wrap as a cling-film replacement. There are also tutorials on DIY wraps, if you’re looking for a project and feeling crafty.
Leave a note in the comments and share your thoughts or tips on reducing your plastic consumption.